TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Junior Caroline Peyton led a 3-4-5 Lady Razorback finish for the University of Arkansas women’s track team in the steeplechase to nearly double the Lady Razorback team score and put Arkansas in third place at the Southeastern Conference Championships in Tuscaloosa, Ala., on Saturday.
Arkansas’s 15 points by Peyton, Tiffany Redlarczyk and Megan Jackson brought the Lady Razorback team score to 32 points, 16 behind the leader Georgia (48) and six behind second-place Florida (38).
“That was more than we could have expected,” Arkansas head coach Lance Harter said. “We figured that we could score seven or more points in the steeplechase so to get 15 is fantastic. We are now getting our momentum back and have a lot of scoring potential on Sunday.”
A large pack through the first two laps of the competition, the pre-race favorites took control midway through the third lap leaving Arkansas’s trio and two Tennessee runners in the next group. Those five runners would trade places until the 900-meter mark where Peyton made a move to the lead and was trailed by Redlarczyk. Following the move, Peyton would increase her lead on the group with Redlarczyk in tow, but the crucial five spot would still be in question for most of the next lap. Jackson, in sixth, surged in front of a Tennessee runner who fell down in second to last water jump and hold on for the critical four points.
Arkansas’s 400-meter runners were also on top of their game Saturday as three of the four qualified for the event finals and each of the qualifiers put up one of the best marks in school history. Junior Tominque Boatright led the way with a school record 52.68, improving on Jessica Cousins’ mark from earlier this season. Cousins’ time of 53.01 was the fourth best in school history with Sasha Rolle’s time of 53.07 the fifth best. The Lady Razorbacks were the only school to place three runners in the event finals.
“Coach Greene said coming in that the 400-meter runners were ready to do some amazing things,” Harter said. “He appears to be right. This just shows that they have really progressed with the training program he has them on and I am looking forward to seeing what happens in the finals tomorrow.”
The Lady Razorbacks got a lift on Saturday’s action from the shot put where Michelle Rossio finished sixth and snagged three points toward the team score. Matching her placing from the indoor season, Rossio threw the shot 46-11 ½ on her fourth throw of the competition to secure her place. Making the finals with the eighth-best throw of the competition, Rossio passed a pair of throwers, one from Mississippi State and one from Tennessee on her first throw of the finals.
The 100-meter hurdles had its share of good and bad for the Lady Razorbacks as Tiavannia Thompson qualified for the finals with another outstanding time of 13.30, but Makeatha Cooper was the first person out of the final when her time of 13.69 was edged by two thousandths of a second. Thompson’s blistering time won her heat, the first of the day, and reaffirmed her Bahamian national record from a week ago of 13.26. Cooper would finish third in her heat and her time of 13.687 was 0.002 behind Pavi’elle James of Tennessee, 13.685.
In what might be construed as the easiest looking Lady Razorback race of the day, Dacia Barr appeared to jog into the 1,500 meter finals with her time of 4:28.29. Leading for 1400 meters of the race, the entire field seemed to key off her as she entered the competition as the second fastest 1,500-meter runner in the nation. Leading the entire way, Barr took a glance behind her as she entered the home stretch and assured that she would grab one of the automatic spots for the finals, slowed down which allowed Kentucky’s Lavera Morris to pass her with 75 meters to go.
The SEC Championships conclude on Sunday evening with 15 event finals. For more information about Lady Razorback track or about Arkansas women’s athletics, please go to LADYBACKS.COM.